Greetings from First United Methodist Church the downtown church that now has some windows in it’s new Sanctuary!!
I really never thought I would be excited about coming to work and seeing windows installed but I really was excited Monday when I noticed the crew was putting in the first pane of glass in the top windows. For some reason, that made the reality of the new sanctuary real for me this week. It is so exciting to see the visible and tangible progress of what God is building up here at First Church.
God is teaching me a lot in this sanctuary building project. Last January we as a congregation made a decision to move forward with the sanctuary project knowing we only had enough money on-hand to complete the outer shell. I was clear to me God was leading us to move forward with the resources He had already provided without making it clear how He would provide what we needed to complete the sanctuary. Along this journey, my faith has been tested quite a few times. I have at times succumbed to the fear that we would only be able to finish the outer shell and have to stop construction once again with an nicer but still unusable structure on the corner. Even with a great consultant and a great team of volunteers, the prospect of raising another 2+ million dollars has caused me to worry.
This experience parallel so many other experiences of faith in my life big and small. God continually calls us into waters that are too deep for us to navigate on our own. When we stop in the midst of our journeys and begin to assess our circumstances based on our own wisdom, abilities, and resources; our natural response is fear. Fear is not, however, the opposite of faith. Fear should be a holy cue for us to lean further into God and move forward with faith and courage in the midst of fear.
Since January it has been so exciting to see the many ways God is getting us closer to being able to complete the sanctuary and begin building up our worshipping community in our new space. Last May, each of you increased your financial sacrifice to God’s mission and ministry at First Church by pledging and giving almost $500,000 towards the sanctuary. Just a few months ago we were blessed by a another gift of $500,000 from Barbara Hamilton. These gifts and pledges have put us across a threshold of being able to at least occupy the sanctuary space, most likely by February 2018. It would still be sparse and we would use chairs we already own but we know we can still worship in there.
We have 1.2 million dollars left to raise to be able to complete the sanctuary and be fully able to open our doors to the community ready to move to our next challenge of bringing in the many people in downtown Memphis who are not currently connected to a christian community. We are presently working hard at trying to identify people in our community God may be leading to help us complete the sanctuary. While I again don’t know where and how God is going to provide, I am confident He is going to lead each step of the way.
As we stand in this exciting place in the life of First Church, I challenge you to pray God will make clear our steps towards completing the sanctuary and prepare us to hit the ground running on our mission to reach the downtown community when it opens.
Grace and Peace,
Andy Rambo, Senior Pastor